By Bruce Martin
Published: Apr 9, 2015
AVONDALE, Louisiana – As the Verizon IndyCar Series arrived at NOLA Motorsports Park on Thursday for Sunday’s Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana, Chip Ganassi Racing may be the best prepared team at the 2.67-mile, 13-turn permanent road course. After all, while other IndyCar Series teams tested at Sebring International Raceway in the days leading up to the season-opening race at St. Petersburg, Florida Ganassi’s operation tested at NOLA instead because – unlike Sebring – it had an IndyCar race on the schedule.
Now that the season has begun, teams are prohibited from private testing so Ganassi’s operation is hoping the trip to NOLA – instead of Sebring – will pay off this weekend.
“The way the forecast looks I wish we tested in the rain,” said Mike Hull, the managing director of Chip Ganassi Racing and its four-driver team that will participate in Sunday’s race. “That very well will be an equalizer for anybody who didn’t have a chance to get in at least one full day at New Orleans. Assuming the track is in good condition I think the track lends itself to good passing zones, good passing areas. It’s going to take a driver that technically understands how to get his car around the race track.
“It’s far different from a lot of the other natural terrain road courses and street courses that we run because it is completely flat and it’s a natural terrain road track with various radius corners and 90-degree corners and some bumpiness to it. There is a complex of corners that lead into Turn 13 onto the pit straightaway that is really fast.
“A driver that understands the technical side under dry conditions is going to win.”
It’s a fast track for a road course with few slow turns but Hull believes the front straightaway will be a passing area as the Turns 4, 5 and 6 area will also feature some passing opportunities.
“This is what I think is wonderful about racing at New Orleans,” Hull continued. “It’s a natural terrain road course, IndyCar is going to a naturally terrain road track and it’s an independent promoter that is enthusiastic about IndyCar racing and that is exactly what IndyCar needs.
“It needs more independent promoters that are enthusiastic about our brand. Let’s race with people like that every chance we get.”
What started out as a “club track” is ready to stage its first major event with the Verizon IndyCar Series this weekend. And that is big news in an area that knows how to stage big events – New Orleans.
“I think there has been a lot of effort on a lot of people for us to have a successful even there, so let’s have one,” Hull said. “We have sponsors coming to the event and they are excited about us being there. The town was built on fun and IndyCar racing is fun to watch. It’s competitive.
“This is a great opportunity for us.”